Del Mar – Tanned, rested, ready for Breeders' Cup
October 31, 2017 3:01 AM
by Robert Mann
Breeders’ Cup 2017 is upon us. By the way, the official name is Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Del Mar near San Diego is the host track for the two-day event this Friday and Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May and the late October or early November Breeders’ Cup remain the two biggest racing events in the United States. In Southern Nevada, most bookies will tell you the Kentucky Derby has the edge in excitement and visitation. It’s due more to the time of year and the tradition of the Churchill Downs event rather than anything else.
The Derby attracts more casual horseplayers than the Breeders’ Cup, but the Breeders’ Cup provides a greater cornucopia of wagering options for the more serious horseplayer. Everyone has his or her own version of reality. The truth of the matter is Breeders’ Cup Saturday is horseracing’s greatest day. Take the time to go into a simulcast outlet Friday or Saturday. The excitement will be palatable. The hope of cashing a sweet ticket springs eternal.
Of special interest this year is the location of the event at historic Del Mar. The dirt track surface and turf course have their own peculiarities that will add a special layer to the proceedings. Winning horses will be said to have liked the track surface and the losers will be given a pass because of Del Mar’s uniqueness.
Over the summer race caller Trevor Denman gave an interesting preview for Del Mar’s Breeders’ Cup coming out party. Denman, who will only be heard on the simulcast feed and not on the NBC or NBCSN television coverage, was unusually candid amid the free coffee and doughnuts at the 8 a.m. confab at the top of the Del Mar stretch.
The longtime voice and face of the track said the plant would be ready for those fans in attendance. He reminded the fans attendance is capped, and overcrowding the venue, as is the usual custom on opening day in mid-July, will not take place. Del Mar is not known for an abundance of restroom facilities, so it’s possible every mobile restroom in San Diego County may be on the grounds.
Track officials studied the recently successful Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, a similar smaller racetrack in Lexington, Ky. They will have done everything possible to accommodate those paying the steep price to attend. However, will that be enough?
If Del Mar can’t truly accommodate the demands of the attendees, it’s unlikely the event will be back. Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles has hosted the Breeders’ Cup numerous times in recent years and remains Del Mar’s rival in attracting the event to Southern California.
Denman, whether he intended to or not, made that rivalry between the two tracks clear when he openly took issue with Santa Anita because of Los Angeles’ famous smog and traffic congestion, among other items. Oddly, Denman, who gave up his race calling duties at Santa Anita a few years ago, gave the impression there was a little more to his departure than just wanting to spend more time on his Midwest farm.
A rivalry between the two tracks is fine with me as long as it results in a better deal for the fans. Although I enjoy Del Mar, Santa Anita is truly horseplayer heaven.
As for a pick for the big day, I’ll take a flyer on Churchill in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, especially if standout jockey Ryan Moore is onboard the Irish-bred son of Galileo out of Meow.
When Churchill wins, I’ll be purring all the way to the bank.
(Correction submitted 10.31.17)